Literacy 7-12

Systems Change
Literacy 7-12 > Strategies > Authentic Audiences & Purposes

Authentic Audiences & Purposes


When adolescents can connect and communicate with authentic audiences about their interests and values, reading and writing become more personally meaningful and relevant. Students can develop their voices and arguments as they express their views towards topics they are passionate about. Giving students the space and agency to share their stories also conveys the importance of their voices in contributing to the broader society, which is an important culturally responsive practice.

Use It in the Classroom

Starting at 1:23, watch how this tenth grade teacher empowers her students to use their voices to tackle authentic challenges like mass incarceration. As a multi-week project, she gives them time to research, plan, draft, get feedback, and revise their action plans, strengthening their Motivation and Argumentative Reasoning as they become change-makers in this space.

  • Working together with students to identify topics, genres, and literary works that are relevant and appealing to them can help generate ideas for their writing. Students may want to respond to an author or editor, pose a different claim, or produce a counter-text to share a different perspective. Designing opportunities with choice that allow students to explore their interests, connect to their prior experiences, and write about personally relevant causes develops their Composition and Disciplinary Literacy. These opportunities also deepen students' Motivation to write compelling pieces and help them understand the nuances of writing for different purposes (e.g., describe, inform, persuade).
  • Design It into Your Product

    Videos are chosen as examples of strategies in action. These choices are not endorsements of the products or evidence of use of research to develop the feature.

    From 0:22, learn about the website Write the World that curates authentic audience experiences for students. By providing writing prompts, peer groups for feedback, and competitions for students, the site adds rigor and relevance to writing assignments, engages young writers, and prepares them for digital citizenship.

  • Apps and websites can serve as platforms for students to connect with a wider, global audience. Developers can create channels for learners to publish their work and interact with others who are passionate about similar topics. Providing a safe space where learners can share their narratives and views and also see the impact of their writing to enact change can be a powerful motivator to deepen their interest in writing.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy